Joey BunchJoey BunchDecember 7, 20175min469
Sen. Matt Jones of Louisville said Wednesday he plans to introduce a bill in the next session to give local governments more authority to “plan, zone, and refuse to allow oil and gas operations as they see fit — just as they do with every other industry.” Though Jones is the Senate Democrats’ appointed leader […]

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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirSeptember 12, 20175min371

… A group of anti-fracking protesters in Boulder (OK, so that’s redundant; everyone in Boulder is against fracking) converged on what they thought was the residence of Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones over the weekend. The fracktivists’ planned stunt — donning HAZMAT gear and presenting a “Green Washing Award” to Jones at her house — went off without a hitch except one: She wasn’t home. Because she doesn’t actually live at the Marine Street residence where the pickets gathered.

As the Boulder Daily Camera reported Monday, Jones is a co-owner of record for the house but rents the place out. That evidently confused the 50 or so fracktivists who showed up:

In a news release, an organization identifying itself as Boulder County Protectors said about 50 community members had marched “on a home of politically compromised Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones asking her to resign.”

After being sent a copy of the news release, however, Jones — who now lives in the 1100 block of Sixth Street in Boulder — said in a Sunday night email that the protesters “went to a house I haven’t lived in for almost five years.

“Happily, no one was at home, but as you might imagine, the current residents were very confused when they came home to find an oil drum in the driveway and threatening chalk messages drawn up and down the sidewalk and the steps to the house,” Jones wrote.

The protest was a bit over-the-top, to be sure — but what really illustrated how extreme the fury over fracking has gotten was the demonstrators’ choice of target: A member of the Boulder County Commission.

That’s the same elected body that had stared down Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman earlier this year over the county’s moratorium on drilling permits while it revised its regulations on the subject. As county commissions go, Boulder’s has been in the forefront of the fracking fracas.

And why Elise Jones, in particular? From 1999 to 2012, she was executive director of the Colorado Environmental Coalition — which made her one of the state’s most prominent voices in the environmental movement. Wouldn’t that make her the protesters’ ally?

So what’s the beef? The Camera explains:

Anti-fracking groups have criticized Jones and her fellow county commissioners for not adopting a “Climate Bill of Rights” or advancing such a measure to county voters’ ballots.

Among its other provisions, the proposed Climate Bill of Rights would assert that county residents have “a right to a healthy climate, which shall include the right to be free from all activities that interfere with that right, including the extraction of coal, oil or gas, or disposal of drilling waste within the County of Boulder.”

Boulder County commissioners, however, have said they have no legal standing to ignore state laws and Colorado Supreme Court decisions prohibiting local governments from banning oil and gas exploration within those governments’ jurisdiction — and that a Climate Bill of Rights would not give the county authority to do so.

A statement read outside Jones’s home — well, the home protesters thought was her home— accused Jones of having “built a career out of collaborating with extraction.”

That likely would come as news to the extractive industry — which long has viewed Jones as an adversary.

Joey BunchJoey BunchMay 25, 20173min472

Long-timers at the state Capitol would have a hard time imagining the place without state Sen. Matt Jones. Off and on, the Democrat from Louisville has been in the legislature since he was elected to the House in 1986.

But next year, he plans to run for Boulder County Commission, he tells Colorado Politics.

Jones is a former pro mogul skier, wildland firefighter and, this past session, deputy Senate minority leader for Conservation, Clean Energy and Climate Change. During most of his long legislative career, he has been part of the Democratic leadership.

“Having twice survived cancer, I know what it is like to be knocked down,” Jones said. “I also know how to keep hope, get back up and come back stronger, just as we must stand up to Donald Trump and regressive policies. We must keep Boulder County a leader on climate, public lands, transportation, and education. We cannot let Trump and the federal government undercut the progress Boulder County has made.

“We have a great county. I’ll fight to keep it that way.”

Jones is seeking the District 3 County Commission seat held by Cindy Domenico, who faces term limits next year.

Jones was re-elected to the Senate last year, after he ran without opposition. If he loses the County Commission race, he’ll still have a job in Denver.

The race won’t be easy. Lafayette Mayor Christine Berg filed to run for the seat in April. Interestingly enough, she endorsed Jones for state Senate.

Besides a stellar legislative career, Jones  touts 18 years in local government as a Boulder open space and trails planner and part-time wildland firefighter. He fought the Fourmile fire in Boulder County in 2010.

He said he would work for solar energy and and a commuter rail to Boulder, as well as oppose oil and gas companies’ overreach.

Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirFebruary 14, 20174min306

Colorado’s attorney general filed suit today against independent-minded Boulder County over its refusal to end its moratorium on new oil and gas development. Of course, it’s not like we didn’t see this coming. A brouhaha has been brewing for quite some time.

Just a few days ago, it took the form of a case of arguable tit-for-tat at the Capitol: State Sens. Matt Jones and Steve Fenberg of Boulder County voted against additional funding for the Attorney General’s Office as a way of pushing back at AG Cynthia Coffman. It was a symbolic gesture by the two Democratic lawmakers on a routine fiscal measure in the Republican-controlled upper chamber, but they wanted to register their anger at Coffman for her previous jab at their home county. The attorney general had issued an ultimatum in a letter to their county’s commission last month: Either lift their nearly-5-year-old moratorium on new oil and gas exploration within Boulder County, or face “appropriate legal action” from her office. The county politely said no.

Today, Coffman followed through. Her office announced it is suing Boulder County over what Coffman  — pointing to court rulings — contends is an illegal moratorium:

The Boulder Commissioners…have re-imposed or extended the moratorium eight separate times. Two of those extensions were passed after the Colorado Supreme Court ruled in May 2016 that local bans on oil or gas development are preempted if they conflict with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act, which regulates all aspects of oil and gas development and operations within the State.  After the Supreme Court’s ruling in the City of Longmont and City of Fort Collins cases, other local governments acted to lift similar bans — except for Boulder County.

…because Boulder County continues to operate in clear violation of Colorado law, the Attorney General today is filing suit in Boulder County District Court to compel compliance.

Jimmy Sengenberger interviewed Coffman on the “Business for Breakfast” show on KDMT radio station Tuesday morning.

She said the Colorado Supreme Court made clear last year that “the state owns the field” when it comes to regulation oil and gas development.

“Local communities have a role and can coordinate and have a voice in those regulations on the local level, but what they cannot do is interfere with the development of oil and gas in their local community, They can’t say no.

“… But Boulder has continued, and it’s the only county in the state of Colorado that continues to violate state law by saying, ‘Nope, we still aren’t going to allow this oil and gas development.'”

She added, “I suppose I could ignore the fact a local community is violating state law, but I don’t think that’s a wise or responsible thing for me to do as attorney general.”

We’ll be back with more as the story develops.

Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirFebruary 10, 20173min281

Still bristling at an ultimatum last month from the Colorado attorney general to Boulder County over its moratorium on oil and gas development, two Democratic senators representing the county voted today against additional funding for the AG’s office.

It was a largely symbolic gesture by state Sens. Matt Jones, D-Louisville, and Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, as the state Senate’s Republican majority approved the routine supplemental appropriation for the office of Republican Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. But the senators wanted to make clear they are steamed at Coffman for her letter to Boulder County officials last month demanding it lift its oil-and-gas moratorium in compliance with a court ruling last year.

The Senate Democratic press office released a joint statement by Fenberg and Jones after the vote on the Senate floor:

“By sending her letter threatening a local community for just trying to protects its families health, safety, and property, the Attorney General is using the power of her office, and money belonging to the taxpayers, to threaten legal action against some of those very same taxpayers. What is worse, the Attorney General is threatening this local community with legal action at the behest of oil and gas companies.”

“On this day, February 10, the day the Attorney General gave for Boulder County to meet her ultimatum, we are voting no on Senate Bill 165, which is a supplemental budget appropriation to the Attorney General’s department. If the Attorney General is going to use taxpayer money to sue taxpayers, we cannot in good conscience vote ‘Yes’ on a supplemental budget appropriation to the Attorney General’s department.”

Boulder County’s ban on new oil and gas drilling permits was implemented by county commissioners in 2012 and most recently extended this past December.

In a Jan. 26 letter to the Boulder County commissioners, Coffman said the continued moratorium violates state law, particularly in light of recent Colorado Supreme Court rulings.

“In two decisions issued just last year, the Colorado Supreme Court made clear that local governments may not prohibit oil and gas development at the local level,” Coffman stated in her letter.

The letter threatened “appropriate legal action” if Boulder County did not lift the ban by today. However, Boulder county officials wrote Coffman back Jan. 27 stating the county will stay the course and not comply with her demand pending development of its own rules for oil and gas exploration inside county limits. The county’s most recent extension of its moratorium is set to expire May 1.